Energy & biofuels
Tuesday, 27 May 2008
Responding to growing international concern over the lack of sustainability in crop-based production of biofuels, Indonesian palm oil producers have said they will not clear land for their crops in future.
The head of the Indonesian Palm Oil Association has told a climate change forum that member companies will only plant on idle land to help prevent the destruction of the country’s rainforest.
The production of palm oil is being expanded rapidly in tropical Asian countries, such as Indonesia, Malaysia and Papua-New Guinea, to supply a burgeoning world market for the fossil fuel alternative, biodiesel.
But environmental interests say tropical rainforests are being cut down to make way for the crop, destroying valuable carbon sinks, contributing to greenhouse emissions and threatening extinction of the orang-utan.Didiek Hadjar Goenadi said there was around seven million hectares of cleared, unused land suitable for growing palm oil crops in Indonesia, which is enough to meet the needs of big producers operating in the country.
"We realize the environmental impacts by opening all our forests so we will stop touching the forest and just concentrate on abundant lands which have not been cultivated yet," Didiek is quoted as saying.But Didek warned that smaller farmers and rural communities needed to be educated about sustainable practices too if deforestation is to be prevented.
Palm oil sales have helped push Indonesia’s export growth to 15 per cent in the March quarter.Last month, companies and other stakeholders forming the Malaysian Palm Oil Council launched a conference to promote sustainable production in the country, which it said had become a “business requirement” for the industry.
Mongabay.com, Jakarta Post, 13/5/08